Celebrating Olympic female heroes

Published on March 8th, 2024

Full gender parity will be achieved for the first time at the Paris 2024 Olympics with half of the 10,500 total athletes being female. This milestone has been a long time in the making and quotas have steadily increased over time.

Tokyo 2020 hosted 18 mixed events and became the first gender balanced Games in history. The first mixed crew event in sailing was at Rio 2016 with Paris 2024 to have two mixed events along with four male and four female events. Additionally, two of the three ‘chief’ administration roles will be held by female officials.

When Countess Hélène de Pourtalès competed at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, women were allowed to take part in just five events – golf, tennis, sailing, croquet and equestrian – and just 22 female athletes out of a total of 997 competed. That was just 2.2% of the athlete total.

The list of female Olympic sailing heroes includes:
• Countess Hélène de Pourtalès – This American born Swiss sailor was the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in any sport. 

• Hannah Mills OBE – The most successful female Olympian of all time for Great Britain and two-time Rolex World Sailor of the Year.

• Lijia Xu – China’s gold-medalist for China who has overcome numerous challenges to become world and Olympic champion. 

• Theresa Zabell – Double Olympic champion in the 470 class for Spain and founder of Ecomar Foundation, a marine conversation organisation.

• Francesca Clapcich – This Italian Olympian left her mark in the 49erFX, won The Ocean Race, and is now skipper of an all-female Ocean Fifty for the next two years.

Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Program*:
Men’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 7 (41)
Women’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 6 (41)
Mixed Two Person Dinghy – 470 (19)
Men’s Skiff – 49er (20)
Women’s Skiff – 49erFX (20)
Men’s Kiteboard – Formula Kite Class (20)
Women’s Kiteboard – Formula Kite Class (20)
Men’s Windsurfing – iQFOiL (24)
Women’s Windsurfing – iQFOiL (24)
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17 (19)
* Quota per event in parenthesis but does not include Universality Places (2 men, 2 women)

Venue: Marseille, France
Dates: July 28-August 9

• Paris website: https://www.paris2024.org/en/the-olympic-games-paris-2024/
• World Sailing microsite: https://paris2024.sailing.org/

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